Philosophy Of Nursing Essay

' published in Nursing and Health 2(3): 65-71, 2014: is a 'must read' article for all nurses.

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All nursing models and frameworks have philosophical assumptions but they are usually implicit.

Authors imply what their philosophical assumptions are but do not actually state what they are.

Careful Nursing draws primarily on a non-nursing philosophical source, the neo-Aristotelian philosophy of Thomas Aquinas (1265-1274/2007).

Aquinas is widely regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of his time and his thinking is equally applicable today (Mc Cabe 2008).

Wisdom was sought by observing and experiencing the whole of reality and, through reflection and reasoning, seeking to understand human life and relationships and how to lead a good and flourishing life.

In nursing we can think of this as reflecting on the reality of our nursing world, using reasoning to examine the concepts we use and how we apply them in practice.Careful Nursing aims to make its philosophical assumptions as explicit as possible in its three philosophical principles.Mc Intyre and Mc Donald (2013) propose that using knowledge from non-nursing sources brings depth to and enriches other possible ways of understanding key nursing concepts, for example person, health and the nurse-patient relationship.Unless such assumptions are explicitly stated we cannot think clearly about them, explain them, critique them and dispute them.Only when philosophical assumptions are explicit can we achieve the clarity and depth of understanding necessary to implement principles and concepts consistently in practice.14); they aim to counter our tendency to take-for-granted the meaning of common nursing concepts, observing that: . In the absence of explicit meaning, nurses tend to fall back on taken-for-granted meanings arising from Western culture such as health as the absence of disease.Mc Intyre and Mc Donald make an important point when they say that philosophical assumptions underlying concepts must be made explicit.Aquinas himself drew on and further developed the thinking of earlier Greek and Roman philosophers, particularly Aristotle.Careful Nursing also draws on modern and contemporary non-nursing philosophers who think in the tradition of Aquinas and address concepts central to nursing.A better understanding of the importance of philosophy in the nurses' world is not only relevant but vital to our discipline and professional practice.The following Table emphasises the importance of philosophy for nurses: The role of philosophy in Careful Nursing follows that proposed by Bruce et al (2014) in the 'must read' article noted above and is outlined in relation to Careful Nursing in the following Table: The importance of using philosophical thinking to examine the core content of a given nursing model or theoretical framework is highlighted by Mc Intyre and Mc Donald (2013, p. concepts such as health, caring, or person, frequently referenced in nursing theory, lack meaning in themselves, remaining at an abstract level, until the specificity of philosophical assumptions attributed to them are clearly explicated.


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